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Every year there are thousands of applicants, that are faced with the seemingly daunting task of trying to get into medical school. They may feel confused and totally at a lost about which steps they should take to get into their medical school of choice, only to find out that the were unfortunately rejected. To make matters worst applicants are then left in the dark without answers on what they did wrong or what they should have done differently during the application process. If you are a pre-med student that is re-applying or a student that has yet to apply, it help to learn what are the top reasons students fail to get accepted into medical school. The medical school acceptance process is difficult and it helps to have understood these common pitfalls. Some of these are easy to avoid and others may take a little more preparation but are well worth it.
- Applying to a small and narrow set of Medical Schools. It’s human nature for us to want to go to the best schools, and often they can be the most difficult ones to get. You may have great grades and references, your pre-med advisors told you should apply for the schools that you really want to get into, as there is no need to apply to more than 10 to 15 schools. You should be cautious of this advice. While you should definitely aim as high possible, by trying to get into the best school, you should also be realistic. Assess your chances of getting into that school, as the completion to get admitted into medical school is extremely intense. There were less tan 43, 000 applicants admitted into medical schools during 2010/2011. So unless you have impeccable grades, outstanding MCAT (Medical College Association Test) scores, suburb letters of recommendations/references, and experience, you should look a wide array of schools to try to get into. Often applicants will assume that they are more competitive than they actually are, and only apply to the top-tier medical schools, and are shocked that they were not accepted into any of them. So even if your are a top applicant, it’s likely that the majority of the rest of the applicants are top-notch as well, so you should apply to schools that are not so highly-selective.
- You don’t have clinical experience. If you are applying to medical it’s important to demonstrate that you have hand’s on experience and you are comfortable in the “field”. Clinical experience is vital in helping, not only the acceptance committee; but yourself as well, to know whether you truly want to be doctor. Clinical experience get’s you exposure to some aspects of life in medicine before actually attending medical school. You want to demonstrate that your experience is a fit for your career and that you are serious about becoming a medical doctor. Many applicants have impressive accomplishments and accolades in their resumes, but don’t have any clinical exposure or true experience, which comes in a wide variety of ways. It’s actually not that difficult to get clinical experience and may be easier than you think. The great thing here is that many types of first-hand medical exposure will suffice. You can shadow a doctor, how about your family physician, as him or her for the opportunity to shadow them. In many cases they will be happy to help you out as they may know first-hand how difficult this medical school acceptance process is. You can volunteer at a hospital, free clinic or perhaps free public health medical clinics that help the underserved. You can participate in formal and premedical programs that will include time with physicians.
- Poorly written documents, (applications, essays, resumes, personal, statements, research work, etc.). It doesn’t matter how great a medial school candidate you are if you can not effectively communicate it, to the admissions committee with your application materials. If you are even matched up with other students with comparable grades, or you are grades are a considered “borderline” then your personal statement will have to convince the admissions committee that they should choose you. From your written documents, the admission committee will decide whether to extend an interview to you and gain a better understanding of who you are. Your personal statement and letters of reference will make the difference. Although you do have control over you LOR’s you should focus heavily on your personal statements. You goal should be to effectively express who you are and what has drawn you to medicine. You want your statement to be compelling and interesting. You want articulate a narrative of who you are and what you want to achieve in medicine and how gaining access to that particular medical school will allow you to fulfill that goal.
- Academically underperformance. It’s important to that your grades and MCAT scores are competitive, However undergraduate GPA are only part of the academic qualifications that the admissions committee will look at. Many medical school admissions teams will “screen” applications. If your MCAT scores are below the acceptance threshold, the application will be rejected, The same thing happens with GPA’s. However some medical schools have a formula that they will use to that takes into account your MCAT and your grades to determine whether your application will be reviewed. It’s a general rule of thumb that your undergraduate GPA or UGPA should be at least a 3.5 with strong performances in the sciences. You should also have a minimum MCAT score of 30 to gain admissions to medical school. There are variations that schools will apply, for example if your UGPA is below 3.5 but you have an MCAT of 31 and excellent letters of reference, and conduct an outstanding interview then you still can gain admissions. Medical schools will also look at your course load and the rigor of the classes as well as the competitiveness of your undergraduate institution, as well as outside factors (such as financial difficulties). It’s also common for many freshmen to struggle, adjusting through class, so Admissions committee would be looking for an upwards trend in grads, and see your academic performance steadily increase as your move through your program. Although medical school look at a variety of factors the MCAT score is the only “apples to apples” comparison that that they have so an excellent MCAT score is significant an any case.
- Late application Submission. If you are a great applicant and submitted a late application, this is a easy yet important problem to fix. Every year the American Medical College Application Service or AMCAS start accepting medical school application around June 1st. So you should submit you primary application close to this opening date in order to give the AMCAS time to review and verify your application. Once your application is verified you will get additional application materials, such as the MCAT test scores and, letters of reference and secondary essays and applications. If you submit your application early, you will be in a smaller pool of applicants in the early season, improving your chances of getting to medical school. Later in the season and at or after deadlines it becomes much harder because you are in a larger pool of applications. Also early applicants can get invited to the schools interviews. Later in the season there are only so many interview slots available. In medical schools with rolling admissions, it is still preferred to interview early since March April initial acceptance offers have been sent. Also medical schools may not have any more places to offer applicants so they are placed on “hold”, “rejected” or “waitlist” rather than acceptance. If a medical school rejected you, perhaps you can take upper-division classes at a four-year university to enhance your academic record. Postgraduate specials master program’s design for students wanting to enter medical school may be a good alternative. You can also pursue a masters in global or public health to improve your academic profile. If you need to improve your MCAT score you should evaluate the areas you need to improve and target those ears for studying,
- Poor Interview Skills – Once you move passed the application to the interview stage, the interview is the most important component of the admissions process. Applicants/interviewees with high emotional intelligence and excellent interpersonal skills are much better at interviews than introverted one. Although it’s common for applicants to be nervous, the interview would like to know how the applicant performs under pressure. Applicants need to be able to articulate and comfortably speak about themselves. Many schools still do one-on-interviews, but many are adopting multiple mini interview formats. With each interview there is some level of subjectivity so that must be understood. By practicing interview questions or speaking about yourself, you will improve. You’ll want to clearly express what motivates you and your experiences that influence your desire to practice medicine.
There are a variety of reasons applicants fail to gain admittance in to medical school. However, each school weighs factors of each unique applicants profile individually, based on the criteria and admissions polices. You should know that there many ways that you can increase you attractiveness to medical schools, so if your are rejected, don’t give up try and again by putting your best foot forward.